I am starting a new series of posts called “Eat like a local” where locals from across Italy will share their tips about local traditional foods and dishes that are not widely known to foreigners. You will learn where the locals eat in Florence, what shops and markets they go to. I would like my readers to take a closer look at the Italian food scene, slow down and go beyond the areas with tourist menus and cheap souvenirs, get a taste of local life. You will learn about stories behind traditional foods and dishes that often reflect history of a city, region and its people.
Tommaso Olivieri, 40, born and raised in Florence. Works as an engineer in a local branch of a multinational company.
Tommaso’s favourite local dishes: fiori di zucca fritti, ribollita soup, pasta with a wild boar sauce, bistecca alla fiorentina, zuccotto cake.
What is so special about these dishes? These are the staples of Tuscan cuisine. I generally like dishes from all over Italy (and the world) though those above are very reassuring and taste like home. My parents are from the south of Italy, Puglia, so the Florentine dishes I mentioned are not in their DNA but I was born in Florence and I like them. I generally eat them in restaurants rather than at home, though, my parents are both great cooks and they have learnt how to make a great ribollita or bistecca alla Fiorentina.
Where do you go to eat your favourite traditional dishes?
There many places in Florence but I would suggest Trattoria Mario, near the Mercato Centrale, or Mario alla Querciola (Via Faentina, 428, Querciola-Caldine, Fiesole), a short drive from Florence.
What would be the best places to eat like a local in your city? The above restaurants and the Mercato Centrale, which is a bit touristy but you get all the local delicacies in one place. I go there when I have people from out of town. My favourite stalls La Toraia that for excellent Chianina (finest Italian beef) burgers and the Fresh Mozzarella for… well… fresh mozzarella. I also like going to the Sant’Ambrogio market (Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti). It is a very old market, dating back to 1873, where locals go for their daily shopping. I like to buy there seasonal fruit and vegetables. If you get hungry while shopping you can always go to a very nice Gilda Bistrot right on the corner of the piazza.
Have you noticed any new food trends in the city? What are they and how do you feel about them?
There are many new very cool and trendy places are opening up in Florence such as the concept-restaurant La Menagère or Gesto with its eco-friendly and sustainable philosophy. Street food is another big trend with new food trucks like La Toraia selling Chianina burgers and Pescepane making fish’n’chips.
What would you call a quintessential food experience in your city? Eating a panino al lampredotto, a bun filled with bits of boiled cow’s fourth stomach. You can find them at the Mercato Centrale.
For more tips on food in Florence you can check out Tommaso’s restaurant reviews on Yelp.
NEXT: Eat like a local in Piedmont